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impression which they seemed not to struggle against, that their conflict was with an enemy the special favourite of Heaven.
So great a change in the fortunes of Charles, and so sad a reverse in those of his adversary, had the strange and romantic adventures of the Maid brought about; a reverse which all just minds, however inaccessible to belief in her divine mission, must have regarded with heartfelt satisfaction as the due reward of patriot valour, and the condign punishment of unprincipled aggression!
Charles kept his little court at Chinon, and there the Maid was received with every distinction as the deliverer of France, and the lawful monarch's most powerful ally. She was admitted to all the councils of the commanders, and had constant access to their King, whom she earnestly urged to march upon Rheims that he might there celebrate the festival of his coronation. As most of the intermediate country was in the hands of the English, the general opinion inclined strongly against this course, and was in favour of first laying siege to several towns, particularly Cosne and La Charite on the Loire, above Orleans. But she insisted with such unusual vehemence upon immediately taking the route of Rheims that her opinion prevailed, seconded as it was by the reflection that her former promises had been so marvellously performed, and by the disposition to yield before the kind of mysterious nature which shrouded her. It was, therefore, determined to attempt proceeding towards the city consecrated by ancient usage to the inauguration of the French monarchs.
As soon as this resolution became known, the Constable Richemont manifested an extreme desire to assist at the august ceremony, and reckoning on the promised good offices of Alencon and the Maid to bring about his reconcilement with Charles, prepared to join him. The secret enmity of Tremouille frustrated this design, and he was forbidden to attend the court. In truth the condition which, upon Buchan's death, he had annexed, or had joined Philip in annexing, to his acceptance of the Constable's staff, the expulsion of Tanneguy du Chastel and Jean Louvet from Charles's councils, had never been forgotten; and a new proof was thus afforded how insuperable are the difficulties of command to a feudal sovereign whose courtiers and councillors are a body of independent Princes, each supported by his own followers, and none willing to perform the duties or yield the submission of subjects.1
Charles now marched with his army of 12,000 men by Auxerre (which he left unmolested on condition of its furnishing him with provisions) to Troyes, the capital of Champagne, where the garrison of Burgundians and English were forced by the inhabitants to treat for a capitulation. But the negotiation, after a week's delay, failed; and the army suffering extremely from want of supplies, the general voice required that Charles should retreat 1 NoteLX.
HENRY THE SIXTH. 285
upon his resources. The Maid here interposed. She entreated him to persevere; she engaged that by storm or by treaty the place should fall in three days. Having obtained his promise to allow this delay before he abandoned the enterprise, she used extraordinary exertions to encourage the officers and the men; she made them bring up guns for the attack and fascines for the escalade;1 and she contrived by going round the adjacent villages to obtain the supplies of food so much wanted. Meanwhile the fame of her exploits spread among the townsfolk; her promises often fulfilled were cited with the exaggeration natural to such a topic; her declarations of divine aid were repeated from mouth to mouth; the wonders she had wrought, ascribed to such a cause, struck the minds of men with awe; they could not refuse their belief to the heavenly ministry which she affected 5 and thus the garrison, finding themselves overpowered by the inhabitants, yielded on the second of the three days, only stipulating for a general amnesty. Chalons on the Marne surrendered with much less resistance. The army advanced to Rheims; and the ceremony of the coronation took place with as much pomp as „
the scanty attendance of nobles would July 17,
1 Some writers reproach her as having planted mock guns in view of the town (Mez., ii. 15). But it is difficult to suppose that the townspeople should not see that these guns did not fire. The other accounts given are more probable,—that she planted small pieces which were found in the country.—P. Daniel, vii. 73.
The Maid placed herself near the Royal person during the solemn service, clad in full armour, holding her standard in her hand. At the close of the high mass she flung herself at Charles's feet, embraced his knees, and bedewed them with tears of joy, as she thus addressed him:—" At length, gentle Prince, is accomplished the will of God, that you should at Rheims be worthily crowned in token of your being truly King, he to whom the realm pertains." Charles expressed largely his sense of her signal services. She received from the nobles and the captains their compliments of congratulation; their joy was mixed with astonishment when they now saw accomplished things the least of which they so lately had declared to be chimerical, and plans successful which they had but yesterday deemed the height of rashness. But the Royal gratitude was gracefully and appropriately testified by a decree immediately pronounced exempting Domremy, the Maid's native village, for ever from all kinds of aids, taxes, and tribute—a decree twice afterwards confirmed by Charles himself, in 1459, and by Louis XIII. a century and a half after. Her family were ennobled, but not till later in the year:
Nov. 1429. „' , . ,
all, both male and female, were raised to rank; the name of De Lys was conferred on them instead of D'Arc or D'Ay; and although the female branches were afterwards excepted from the former decree by a new ordinance, the males of the family were ever afterwards noble.
The effects of the solemnity at Rheims soon became apparent. No one ever pretended that the authority of the monarch in France depended upon his coronation, or was in any degree derived from that august ceremonial; yet all have observed its powerful influence in striking the minds of the people with reverence, and making them bow more submissively to the anointed representative of royalty. Accordingly, no sooner did intelligence of the proceedings at Rheims reach the surrounding country, than Soissons, Laon, Chateau-Thierry, and other important towns of Champagne acknowledged Charles; and Bedford became seriously alarmed at the daily improvement in the aspect of his adversary's fortunes. The conduct of that great man, alike remarkable in civil as in military affairs, presents at this time a singular union of all the qualities which were most required by the extraordinary difficulties of his situation—firmness, presence of mind, boundless fertility of resources, entire devotion of himself to the performance of his duties, and an absolute forgetfulness of every selfish feeling or personal interest. He first sent to Philip an embassy, conducted by persons of the greatest consideration, inviting him to Paris, where he desired to confer upon the position of their common cause. It was his happy fortune to succeed so far, that the Burgundian, though longing to treat with Charles, yielded to the Regent's authority, and repaired to meet him. Then in order to counteract Charles's intrigues with the Parisians, he carefully